I'm so glad you found us! We love to share our story of what the Lord is doing in and through our ministry in Kenya. If you are a reader, please click the link on the right-hand side and "Follow Along!" And stop back by anytime! Karibu sana!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

My Mom is Coming!!!

Woo hoo!!  My mom has begun her second (annual, I hope) journey to Kenya! She is currently in Houston with Kris, finishing the final packing of crates, having a last really good meal, and soon to be boarding her flight for Nairobi, via London.  
Tag (who is still greatly mourning the loss of his best buddy sister, Dot) was REALLY wanting to hop in and come with her.  

Your prayers for my mom's safe travel would be greatly appreciated! She is an amazing woman and I have no doubt she will make the journey just fine, but this is her first time to do it alone and she is a bit nervous.  

If you know my mom, well...you know.  Specifically, pray for her safety and  well being during the trip and while she is here. No accidents!  Last year, she had an amazingly healthy trip!  Absolutely no issues whatsoever, and even her eyes had no problems.  We claim that same provision for this time...in Jesus' name!

Also, if I could ask a selfish prayer request, please pray for me.  Whether it is an attack or whatever, this has been an incredibly difficult week for me.  Within the past week I have had strep throat, a stomach virus, and sinus issues with a horrible pressure headache, in addition to a few staff issues that I need to deal with.  All that was followed by a fall down the stairs yesterday. Needless to say, I want my mama!!!  And somehow moms just know, don't they?  

God's timing is perfect. I am looking forward to a wonderful time with my mom.  It will be a busy time, but I hope we can find some moments to just sit and enjoy each others' company. Our little getaway trip is not going to work out, money better spent elsewhere, so we will try to be intentional to have a little time to relax. I know we are going to have a great time...starting in 23.5 hours! 

Thanks for your prayers....

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday's Favorite

Baby Bananas...Mmmm!

When I was home last time, I picked up a banana thinking it would be the perfect little afternoon snack.  I peeled it open, sunk my teeth into it, and was suddenly confused. I was eating something that I thought was familiar, but was somehow...well, just wrong. I handed to my mom and asked her to taste it. Nothing wrong. I love bananas. My favorite fruit. How could this be so no-right? 
Well, I guess I had gotten used to the amazing little baby bananas in Kenya. That is one thing I really do love about this place...great fruit.  The baby bananas are my favorite.  I'm sure they have some real, official name, but I just call them baby bananas. 
Mmm...I do love them. They're may favorite fruit this week...most weeks.  I can't explain how they are different from the bananas in America; they just are.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Out for a Walk

We have such a great staff at HOH. It was such a beautiful day, we decided to take the babies out for a walk.  

Everyone, yes everyone, grabbed a baby and off we went! 

(It was nap time for the little babies.)

About half a mile down our road, there is a lookout onto Maasai land.  A beautiful drop at the edge of the Rift Valley.  

It is so much fun to live so close to some of God's most beautiful creations (and in a house with more of them)!!!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

New Rocking Chairs

Thank you to Don & Jeannie Lewis of Midland, TX and Ken & Judy McFarland of Lumberton, TX for our new rocking chairs!!  

Every house full of babies needs rocking chairs, right?  Well, they are HARD to find here! A friend of mine tried to have them made by fundis (fundi = expert in something, used to describe craftsmen) but all outcomes proved to be miserable attempts. They just could not understand the concept. I finally found a store that sold them ready made - and they are glider rockers! One is downstairs in the playroom and one is upstairs in the little babies' room.

I brought them home and had to explain the concept of rocking and demonstrate using the chair. It is more natural for them to bounce the baby to soothe, whereas we in America typically rock and sway.  The girls and I have had this conversation MANY times, so the rocking chair was a great way to demonstrate that it is something real, not just another crazy American thing I am asking them to do. 

When Julie first sat and tried out the chair, she looked confused. Irene asked her how it was and she said "I cannot feel it moving." She was rocking!  The rocking footstools/ottomans came with the chair.  They asked if they were just sitting stools or rocking tables as well.  Umm....neither.  And the explanation/demonstration that followed was quite awe inspiring to them.  A crazy concept, I guess. 

All in all, the girls are very excited to have the chairs!  Irene even volunteered to do night duty tonight and it's not even her night!  

Thanks, friends, for your donations! They really do make a difference in the lives of our babies!!  

New HCO Sign Board

In Kenya, it seems that sign boards are very important.  They are widely used for landmarks, as there are no street signs.  We finally have our sign board for the baby center!  

(Sign/logo beautifully designed by Angie Bare - www.angiebare.com)

One reason it took so long to get our sign board is that I was debating about it. Not so much about the design (thanks Angie Bare!), but whether or not we should have the sign at all. It could attract more people wanting assistance, etc. So many people in need, we are constantly approached to sponsor, support, etc. On the other hand, our neighbors already know who we are, so choosing to paint our sign board is just a reminder that we are there and a part of the community. And it is great to have when giving directions! So, considering each perspective, we opted for painting out sign with our HCO/HOH logo! 

Our staff LOVE the sign! They are taking great pride and ownership in the home and they feel good in being a part of something that is "real." The sign board, being so significant in Kenya, is a wonderful thing in their eyes.

Joshua admiring our sign.
Now, when YOU come visit us, you will know you are "home" when you see our beautiful sign board. :-)  So, karibu sana!!! (You are VERY welcome!)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday's Favorite

Sitting Babies!

Last week I posted about Lizzy's new accomplishment of sitting alone.  Now, we have a house full of sitting babies! 

Kate started sitting for little spurts the first week of January, and now she is a real sitting baby! 

Elijah is growing so fast! He is a happy boy (during the daytime) and loves his new skill of sitting! It's like a little party each time he does it. He still needs at least one hand to prop himself and he thinks it is so funny when he moves that one hand and topples over.
Lizzy is still working hard, getting stronger and stronger every day. It is hard to know how long Elizabeth could sit on her own, as she gets excited when she realized what she is doing and throws her head back causing her to lose her balance.  We got news this week that Heshima is expanding and she will be able to go 2-3 mornings per week! Not only will she be getting physical therapy 2 days, she will also have lots of play time and fun stimulation in a class with other children like herself. This is a GREAT opportunity for her. Our only concern is the logistics, so please pray that we can work out a schedule that will fit within my times of driving into town.

Once again, it has been another great week of accomplishments at Haven of Hope!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mama Kate's Visit

Kate's mom, Mama Kate, came to visit today. (In Kenya, once a woman becomes a mother, she takes the name of "Mama [baby's name]." Ex: my mom is Mama Trena.)

This was my first time to meet her, and after talking with her, I still believe her story. I do not think she intentionally neglected her daughter. She is now trying to find work so that she can have a means to provide for her daughter. We will go to court on February 2nd and the judge will give us an idea of the future of Kate and a possible timeline for reintroducing Kate into her family.

Specific prayer request: Pray for Mama Kate to find a job. With over 40% unemployment rate in Kenya, jobs are hard to find.  She is also an IDP (Internally Displaced Person) from the post election violence, which adds to her disadvantaged state. 

Monday, January 18, 2010

Guy Time

I went downstairs this afternoon to find the little boys missing from the playroom. They were outside with our Maasai men having some guy time. 

It is so crazy to think that these guys, Emmanuel and Simon, are true Maasai warriors and have killed MANY animals, (including lions, buffalo, rhino) yet, they are so sweet and gentle with our babies.

We are so blessed to have these good, solid male role models for our little ones.
Thank you, Simon and Emmanuel!!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Haven of Hope Certification Process

We began our process of government registration last June 2009.  In August, we received a letter of recognition acknowledging that we were an authentic institution in the process of acquiring registration, thus allowing us to accept babies into Haven of Hope.  We were subsequently inspected by several governmental departments, including the District Health and District Children's Departments.  (You may remember our horrific inspection experience in September.)

Where are we now? - We still do not have our official registration certificate.  Before going to America in November, I met with our Children's Officer and was told that I had all necessary documents in place and they were submitting our application to the highest office for our final certificate.  That may not sound too significant, but after spending months getting the run-around, always being told we need something else, something else, something else, this was VERY good news. 

Since November, we have not heard anything from our District office so I went to check on it. Once again, I was told that we are "just waiting."  It was great to hear that we did not need to submit additional documents, but "waiting" in Kenya can be a never-ending game.

As of February 14th, our first babies will have been with us six months, the necessary waiting period for them to be in our home before proceding with adoption processes. In order to move forward with any of our babies, to obtain guardianship or to place them up for adoption, we must have our official registration certificate.  

Now, I ask for your prayers in this matter.  We NEED that simple piece of paper.  I want to do what is best for these babies and for our home. We were able to begin the home with the initial letter of recognition, but we cannot do anything permanent with that.  

We serve a mighty God who hears His children's prayers and knows the needs of His children.  Please join us as we lift this need up to Him.  Please also pray for wisdom for me as we reach this next stage in our mission to help these babies find their way to their "forever families." 

Thank you!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wordless Wednesday


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Happy Birthday Julia!

This weekend we celebrated Julia's 1st birthday!  This was the first baby's birthday we have had the privilege of celebrating at Haven of Hope, and it just happened to be my Little Lulia's birthday.  

Not only was this a celebration of one child's first birthday, but it was a true celebration of life.  A birthday for one of our babies is especially significant when you consider their life before coming to Haven of Hope.  We are truly celebrating their survival of their first year of life, a year filled with  hardships that many of us will not face in our entire life. What a privilege to be a part of Julia's LIFE! 
A total girl...Julia LOVED the chocolate cake! 
The presents were a hit, too. She really got the "unwrap" concept and did it herself.

My prayer for Julia on her first birthday...

Dear Father, 

Thank you for the gift of this beautiful girl. Thank you for bringing her into my life and allowing me the privilege and responsibility of showing Jesus to her. 

I pray your abundant blessing over her life. May she grow in faith, hope and love as she learns what is means to be a child of God. I pray that she comes to know You as her Lord and Savior, giving her life to serve and honor You. You have saved her, redeemed her, and bought her with a price.  May she always knows how much you love, adore, value and cherish her as your special child.I pray that her testimony of being left fatherless in this world and adopted by the Father of Life becomes a story that is real, personal and used to touch the lives of many others. 

Bless this baby, Julia, and keep her; make Your face shine upon her and be gracious unto her.

In the precious, holy name of Your Son, 


Friday, January 8, 2010

Friday's Favorite

I haven't done this in a few weeks, but today's favorite was WAY worth posting!
My favorite thing to see today was: 


These are some pretty major milestones for this special little girl.  Lizzy will be 3 years old in April.  When she came to us in August, she could barely hold her head up for more than a few seconds.  Just four months later, with a physical therapy, an exercise program at home and lots of love, her progress is astounding! 

Lizzy is SO proud of herself, and so are we.  As we cheered her on in her effort to make it all the way over, she kicked her leg and swung her arm until she finally succeeded in rocking herself all the way over...a complete roll! 

What a seet, happy little girl Lizzy is! I can't wait to see her continued progress this next year!  She has such a bright future.  

Please continue to pray for this special girl. I know God has a unique plan for her life. When I was in America, my mom and I bought her a pair of pajamas that I think fits her to a tee.  They have bright yellow bottoms with sunshines all over and the shirt says, "I will make a difference."  Indeed, Elizabeth WILL make a difference on this earth!  

Please be a part of her future by praying with me about the special place God has for her. Let's help her make a difference! She is off to a great start.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Update on Kate - Part 2

Kate is our baby who was called to court in December. 
If you want the back-story, go to the first Kate Update:
Since that time, the judge released her mother from jail, bond-free. Obviously, he has found her not at fault as that is a rare situation.  There are fees, payoffs, and fines for everything, so the fact that she was released without having to pay anything is significant.  It seems evident that the mother left the baby with the father as she was desperate and unable to care for her.  The father did not want the baby so turned her over to the police rather than taking her to her mother. 

What does this mean? 

The mother has been released and given time to find a stable place to live and prepare herself for caring for her daughter.  We feel certain that the judge will place Kate back in her care at the next court date, February 2.

Is this a good thing?

I think it is.  I have yet to meet the mother myself, but the girls at the home have and I hope to within the next week. You may remember that Kate was in great condition when she came to us. Her mother had obviously taken very good care of her before she left her with the father. 

Our goal at Haven of Hope is to provide a home and show the love of Jesus to babies in need.  We will do that for however long God gives them to us. Ultimately, we want these babies to be with their "forever family," whether that is their birth family or an adoptive family. If the birth mother is capable and able to care for her child and provide the baby with a safe, loving home, that is generally what we want to facilitate.  

By Kate's mom having time to prepare herself, she is making herself ready to be a better mother to Kate. It is our desire to stand in the gap and take care of this precious baby while her forever family prepares to take her back. 

A final decision has not yet been made, but it is highly likely that Kate will be leaving us soon.  As sad as that is, I feel that we have done exactly what the Lord has called us to do - hold and love this baby in this season of her life when she (and her mother) needed us to.  

If the judge does not award the mother return of custody, we are MORE than happy to keep Kate! 

Please pray that...
* God's will will be done in this situation, 
* that Kate's mother will be able to prepare herself to be a mother again if she is to take Kate in February, and 
* that we would be the hands of Jesus, showing the fullness of His love and joy to this sweet little Kate (and all the other babies) while they are here. 

Thank you for caring for our babies at Haven of Hope! We are ALL so blessed to be a part of thier lives!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year!!

I guess the holidays really got away from me! I was at home in America enjoying some wonderful time with family and friends.  I arrived back in Kenya just in time to start this great new year. 

I wanted to start 2010 off by sharing a note to all the amazing people that help make the ministry of His Cherished Ones possible, a quick look back over 2009 and ahead to 2010!

from Trena and babies of Haven of Hope

I pray that the Lord has blessed you this year, as He has indeed blessed me and the ministry of His Cherished Ones!  With your help, we have come so far this year and have been able to minister to so many. 

In 2009, the Lord has allowed us to:
* find a beautiful house on an amazing compound,
* wade through the grueling governmental registration process of opening a childrens' institution,
* transform a vacant house into a safe, loving, baby-proof home,
* opening HCO's Haven of Hope Baby Center, welcoming our first six abandoned/orphaned babies into the family of His Cherished Ones!!

What an amazing journey! Thank you for being a part of that journey, through your prayers, thoughts, encouragement, and financial support. 

In this next year of 2010, we hope to...
* welcome more babies into our care,
* provide many more desperate people with much needed food,
* continue to teach our area children through our weekly Kids Bible Club,
* build relationships and share the love and hope of Christ with those around us,
* disciple our new friends who have made decisions for Christ,
* continue ministry in the village,
* and purchase the Haven of Hope property that we are currently renting!

It is such a pleasure to be a part of this ministy and see what the Lord is doing in Kenya.  It is an honor to have so many people join in the family of HCO to make it all possible.  Your prayers and support are greatly appreciated and without you, we could not be there making a difference in these little babies' lives.  Please consider being a part of the ministry with your finanical support as we set out to reach our goal of raising $250,000 in 2010 to purchase our Haven of Hope property. And your prayers for the ministry and for our babies are very much needed!  We depend on your support and are so grateful for your partnership with HCO.

May the Lord richly bless you this next year and show Himself to you in encouraging new ways.

My love, God's grace,
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